tv U.S. Senate CSPAN September 11, 2009 9:00am-12:00pm EDT
>> i take it there are third party verification? >> guesser absolutely. and what do you think, there are more? >> we have actually encountered problems that we have referred some for further action. >> you think the likelihood there is more. >> we are looking for the. >> mr. khuzami. >> there are always more, senator. >> would any be in the billions, tens of billions, you know, madoff was 50 billion. stanford was what, eight to 10 billion? >> that's correct. >> could they be in the billions of dollars of range? >> there is no guarantee there isn't but i agree with mr. markoff was that the economic cycle has shaken out a plot to schemes that would herwise exist and that is why we have been able to bring along with concerted effort to 45 alone. >> the other thing that worries me is with new technology and increasingly dark markets, it's harder to uncover some of these things and it makes it more difficult. do you agree with that quick to all of you agree that would be
more difficult? given we have less transfers in the markets these days rather than more. >> absolutely right, senator. more complex products, less transparent to equals a greater possibility of fraud and wrongdoi. . do the personnel at the sec have those skills? >> senator, they either have the skills, they have the capacity
to develop them and together with some of the reforms that we've undertaken, we will get to the place that we need to be in order to be ready to -- >> are you able and willing to fire people who just aren't up to the job? >> well, senator, there's various restrictions on what we're able to do in that regard, but we can get to where we need to be through a variety of methods. >> uh-huh. >> we are creating specialized unitshich will really through repeated investigations of the same nature, additional training and hiring specialists who are focused on these areas go a long way toward cating the kind of expertise that we need. >> all right. one example, sec has a lot of lawyers, sort of lawyer-heavy. i think in the division of enforcement, most of the people are general litigators. i'm a lawyer. being a lawyer doesn't necessarily make you good with numbers. that's what you need to know to
figure these things out. so my question and this is to mr. khuzami and mr. walsh, who in the enforcement or compliance or inspection divisions has the ability to do the necessary analysis and forensic accounting investigations in this world of very complex structured products, quantative trading and a lot of it hidden, not hidden for nefairious provisions they don't like them to be revealed. what people have real experience working in the markets trading these products, making quantative models, developing trading technology systems versus say the percentage of people who are lawyers? >> look, senator, we are clearly not where we need to be in terms of the acquisition of individuals with some of those skills. that is why these specialized units and the additional hiring will help very much. we're not going to get to a point in the near future where large numbers of our staff have the kind of skills that you're talking about. but that doesn't mn we'll be
handicapped by any means because what you really need is centers of competence, places where people know they can go to get the advice and the expertise that they need and that can exist within the division of enforcent. that can exist in the sisr divisions of the agency and that can exist through training programs. so while my hiring goals may not allow me toave the kind of -- >> how many new people have you hired since you've come in? >> well, we received a reappropriation that allowed us to hire approximately 25 in 2009 and we have -- >> i helped you get that appropriation. >> you did and we are very thankful for that, senator. >> but it's n close to enough. >> i agree. i agree. we have additional requests for fiscal years 2010 and a significant request for 2011. >> what do you think of the proposal, all three of you, that i made which is that the sec should be able to use the fees that it gets registration, fines
and other things? i mean, right now it's $1.5 billion and they only get 800 million of it? >> senator, i think from my perspective, it is a very good idea not only for the amount of the funding but for the predictability of it. we can't even budget long term for certain kinds of projects that -- we can't go into the outyears because we don't for certain whether or not the funds will be there. so things like i.t. budgets, which by definition are long-term projects suffer. >> rit. and i suppose even personnel, if personnel knows there's going to be a growing revenue stream and they're likely if they're good to be promoted gets salary increases they'll stay longer. isn't one of your problems is lack of experience. >> that's correct. and be able to react quickly. banking regulators can hire immediately when they are facing an imminent crisis. they can bring large numbers of peoples on with specialities. >> they're funded the way -- we wouldn't have to get you this special little appropriation or
smaller numberf people. what do you have to say about those kinds of things, markopolos? >> i definitely concur. we need to increase the funding in the industry and i was a member of the industry for 17 years. we paid those sec fees and yet the money was diverted to general treasury. >> so you'd support the proposal. >> i support it 100%, thank you. >> how about you mr. walsh? >> absolutely. are seeking to attract greater expertise to the program, hiring more staff who can come in from the industry and bring their knowledge and i believe the proposal you're suggesting, sir would really help us do that. >> you know, on tapes that were revealed by the media today, here's what madoff saidhen he coached his employees who were coming in. you may have heard this. it came out today. he said to these who were going to be interviewed by the sec, you don't have to be too brilliant with these guys. this is his quote. because you know they work for five years athe commission and then they become a compliance manager at a hedge fund now. that's the problem. they're there a short time and
then they go away. you agree -- madoff's analysis as crooked as he was was correct in this area. right? >> certainly, we would like to retain our test talent for as long as we can. turn -- turnover is not a bad things. >> it depends who does the turnover. >> it was in the 5 to 7 range but it didn't stop it from being one of the premier law enforcement offices in the country. >> a lot of people turned over in your office came and worked for me. mr. walsh? it turnover greater today than it was 20 years ago when you started? >> turnover has ge up and down usually because of what's happening out in the marketplace. we have had a period of time where it has been relatively low. i think -- >> since the market crashed? >> yes, sir. >> but bore that was it up higher -- >> yes, it was much higher. and we also have the same problem my colleague has
described. hanging onto the people we want to keep is always a challenge. >> right. okay. let's see here. i have a few more questions but senator merkley has been waiting patieny so i'm going to reserve a second round for me and turn it over to senator merkley. >> thank you very much, mr. chair. i want to start, mr. markopolos -- you said that your three sons are watching at home. and i just want them to know what a cougeous thing you did in reporting your belief that there was frd at this firm. when i first read your 29 red flags report, you began it by asking for confidentiality very limited circulation of who you were because of concerns of your safety and the safety of your family.
and when you're taking oa multibillion dollar enterprise those concerns were very legitimate but you put the interest of our nation and our finances first. took some personal risk and i applaud you for it. >> thank you, senator. >> i keep coming back to try to understand the cultural factor because i simply can't believe that the capable folks coming out of -- even if they came relatively freshly out of college weren't able to see the basic simple elements involved. and sometimes one gives the benefit of the doubt. and in some cases, one gives a massive benefit of the doubt. and there are cultural factors as to why that occurs. and i want to get some sense i there any kind of regular socializing that goes on between the sec team and the financial world where people know each other and know each other
individually, go to -- are invited to parties. are invited to go to see shows together, do invitations come from the financial community. is there any kind of that -- mixing that makes people more friends than adversaries >> sir, we're very concerned about excessive fraternization because we feel it could create a conflict of interest and dull people's judgment and the vigor of their work. we have ethical rules where if someone wants to socialize, it must be a widely attended gathering. they should come if for ethics approval in advance. we take that very seriously. so i would hope that if there is that level of fraternization, that a conflict of interest has alisten, someone who is engaging in that will certainly be recused from any future work relating to that firm. >> so they don't invite people
to conferences in hawaii? >> well, they do invite people to conferences and they can be very valuable for gathering intelligence. and picking up on risks and trends and sometimes just the charter in theackground in the industry. but again, that goes through a very careful review and apprval process to make sure that the people that go to those conferences don't suffer from conflicts of interest while they are there. >> anyone else wantso comment on that. >> it's less in problem in enforcement because we by definition have an adversarial or potentially adversarial relationships with institutions or individuals that we regulate. on the other hand, there is some value in that kind of outreach and participation because we're able to inform the investing community and the institutions of what we think is wrong and where we think they should be cleaning up their act. and as long as you maintain a proper distance, i think those kinds of arrangements can be beneficial. >> i would definitely like to comment. i don't think the sec staff is outhere enough with industry professionals at the
conferences. they do not allow time off for staff members to attend security analyst meetings, to attend economic club meetings, to attend cpa society meetings. they need to get out there and mingle with industry participants and they also need to have something very simple that i carry with me. a business card. and the sec doesn't even provide their own staff with business cards. so how are you going to get a fraud referral if you go to an industry event, which they typically d't go anyway -- how are you going to find out what's going on if you're not out there and how are you going to be educated upon the new products that are coming out every day, every week, every month if you're not attending industry events? and they typically do not fund those or allow the time off. i think they need to get out there more. you don't need to fraternize. that would be bad. they need to show up and they don't even show up. >> is that what you're doing in understanding these exotic financial vehicles and so forth? >> certainly, in terms of training and education, absolutely right. through our specialization
efforts and through enhanced training we are clearly moving in the direction of acquiring greater knowledge and greater exposure in those areas. >> yes, sir, i would agree. >> another challenge and i think it was referred to by senator schumer is that folks mht come to your organization looking down the road and seeing that the possibility of much higher-paying jobs in private industry -- the same industry that they're regulating is the revolving door and the potential for much better remuneration down the road. a problem in folks not wanting to be kind of too hard-hitting in their investigations or fending key power brokers in the industry? >> senator, this is an issue that, you know, came up when i was at the department of justice and continues to come up now. my general view is if you want to attract good talent, there's always that risk. there's no getng away from it particularly for individuals who
work in cities with high cost of living, that's just a risk. but the alternative, which is to accept people who find themselves less marketable, i don't think is palatable either. but at the same time, my view is that the way that an individual makes themselves potentially marketable for future employment is by no means toull your punches or somehow not conduct vigorous investigations. if anything, it's the opposite. that enforcement attorneys and prosecutors are very interested in, you know, significant cases, thorough investations, cutting areas of the law and even sometimes high profile cases in order to later embelli their employment opportunities. those are all good things. employers on the other hand are not interested in hiring in my experience peoe who are willing to not conduct those kinds of investigations, are not respected by their colleagues or peers and don't have influence within the community.
so i recognize the problem in the abstract. i don't think it's as big of a problem in reality. >> sir, i would add if we could, we have a procedure when someone is leaving, we take a look back over their work over a period of time before they left a year and if there's any conflict we can see between where they're doing and the work they've done at that permanent we take it out they weren't pulling punches and doing things they shouldn't have done. >> i'm over my time. can i ask one more question. one of the situations that came up was about the firm's auditor. does the sec review information about who a firm's auditor is and whether the auditor's firm's capability reflects competence, a track record elsewhere? is there a change of practice in this area? and am i right in thinking that had the inadequacy of the auditing function been looked into that this might have been a
real clue to the situation? >> certainly, sir, we are looking at it much more actively today. and, in fact, that is one of the high risk elements that we are now considering as we sift through the community to see if there are, in fact, other problems lurking out there. absolutely, it's getting a lot more attention today. >> i'll just close by noting that i think the sec's incompetent examinations actually greatly served mr. madoff because it suggested to folks rumors of the investigations. they said to people this firm is credible and gave them greater confidence in investing and it just points out how incredibly important this function is to the correct functioning of our markets and the protection of the public. and i understand that you're doing everything in your power to put the sec back on course and i thank you for it.
>> okay, i have a few more questions and then we'll finish up. mr. markopolos, you made 14 recommendations to the sec based on your experience. if you had to choose, tell me the two you'd consider the most important. >> the best tool that the sec could use in my opinion is the pink slip. it's a piece of paper that every employee could understand. there need to be a number of them. i suspect about half the staff or perhaps more. >> explain to evebody who might be listening to this what the pink slip is. >> pink slip is when you get called into account and y're fired for doing a bad job or not being competent on e job. i think many of th examiners and many of the enforcement attorneys lack competence at the basic skill levels. there needs to be a skill inventory conducted of the staff. they need to take multiple choice exams and those that don't cut the muster, let them go and they bacally need to start weeding off staff. >> now, there are limitations on the ability to weed out staff.
would you mr. khuzami, or mr. walsh, comment on those and does the sec need to change the rules? are these rules? are these statutes do they get in the way, could you just comment on mr. markopolos' suggestion of pink slipping people. >> well, senator, i guess i can't let the comment pass without responding to the substance of it first which would be certainly in my experience in the five months i've been with the division, i would not agree by any stretch of the imagination of the numbers of people that mr. markopolos suggests are deserving of pink slips. i've seen the performance of these people. they are committed. they are hard-working. they are excellent at what they do. and if there's something that we need to do, it's to train them better and to provide them opportunities for greater expertise. >> but the question just leaps off, if they so competent, how
did they missed mr. madoff. >> there are several variables that caused the terrible consequence. my only point it's not emblematic of the entire division. >> okay. how about the ability to get rid of people who aren't good. we can disagree as to how many there might be. >> well, senator -- >> are your hands too tied in that regard? >> senator, we're doing more in respect to -- we're adopting, for example, in 2010 an enhance management performance system which will allow us to better evaluate a set of objecves and evaluate the performance of individual attorneys. you know, the ability to impose discipline or to terminate lawyers has not in my view -- is not an impediment in achieving where we need to get. >> mr. walsh? >> i would agree. i think certainly we have a ver skilled staff. to me as i read the inspector general's report one of the
truly heartbreaking elements is that there was expertise on the staff. there were people who could have played the proper role in solvinthe problem and they just weren't brought to bear on the particular problem. on the particular issue. >> this is so confounding. you're saying your staff was competent. they had the tools, they had this and it just didn't happen. it's just not going to add up to people. mr. markopolos, do you want to comment? >> yes. i think it's very hard to soar like an eagle when you're surrounded by turkeys and there's a lot of turkeys that need to be let go. >> mr. khuzami and walsh, you're saying there are many more eagles than turkeys. they just happene to miss this thing. >> >> most of the attorneys at the sec i don't think they could find steak at an outback. >> here's whai want to ask you mr. markopolos make sure there's a wall between walsh and khuzami because they seem like decent people and have very good reputations. do you think they're just doing this 'cause that's the job of somebody to defend their
employees and maybe deep down inside them they realize there needs to be a whole lot more competence? >> i think it's the institution talking and not the men. i think there needs to be different compensation and it needs to be results-based and better salaries. if you pay peanuts and you shouldn't wonder why you end up with monkeys. you need to increase the salary and give these people the bonuses they deserve and make them success-based and bring in bigger cases. >> there are salary caps, limits. do you think, mr. khuzami and mr. walsh, that the interfere with the ability to get the best people and retain the best people? would it be better if the compensation levels were changed so you could pay more at least to some of the top people? i don't just mean the senior advisors but maybe you need 10 really cracker jack investigators who get paid more an others and you can't do that given the present rules?
is it possible to pay scales w of promoting seniority and all that need to be changed in an agency like this? >> senator, i think that greater flexibility in both the ability and the amount that we could pay people would be very helpful, particularly, as we recruit market specialists, structurers, traders, others who came from wall street who although may have a difficult time finding a job now may soon find themselves in demand and making many multiples of that. >> right. so you would say that you need more flexibility. do the top salaries have to be raised or what you have to pay for some certain key people have to be raised? >> i agree completely, senator. >> mr. walsh? >> yes, sir, that would really help us attract the talent we need. we're constantly competing with wall street to draw in people who have the skills we need to regulate wall street. >> that's obvious, yep. okay. that was your first -- i asked you for two, mr. markopolos. give me the -- give me the second. >> t second is almost as
important would be to minimize if not eliminate the influence and the overlowering of this -- >> i didn't hear that. minimize the influence of the -- >> of the attorneys. the attorneys are running the show and they failed miserably. it's time to give people with capital markets experience a chance. i have to think we can do better. we understand the frauds of the 21st century. we know these instruments. we know the structured products. we know the math. we know the derivatives. we know how they're put together again. the law, there's too many lawyers and the law is too low of a bar for behavior. securities law is down here, the behavior we need to shoot for is way up here it's called good ethics and good transparency. that's two separate issues. one is making the standard higher. that has to be donetorily -- statutorily or administrative. >> the attorneys look at the low bar and you need to rai that. >> one is lawyers and investigators. i asked them about that but we'll come back to that.
but the first one is, do you think the actual standard of criminality has to be changed or at least of what fraud is? >> yes, you need to increase the bar and make it more expansive, give these guys more tools. >> okay. do you, gentlemen, agree with that. you need some statutory or regulatory changes in defining what fraud it? >> senator, i don't think it's -- >> and i just don't mean fraud. the other crimes -- >> we don't lack for statutory charges and vehicles. it's up on our jurisdiction to have security-based swaps agreements and hedge funds, for example, which would greatly aid our investigations as would the requirement that hedge funds and others have standard audit trail information so that we can more quickly analyze their trading patterns. >> right. mr. walsh, do you have anything to add? >> no. i agree with my colleague on that. >> and what about the second
comment -- mr. markopolos's were really two. the second was too many lawyers, not enough market-experience people. i sort of asked you that before. >> i'm sorry, go ahead, please. >> look we are all about increasing o specialization. that's the thrust behind so many of the reforms we've implemented. i will say at the same time, there are, you know, astounding examples of work in complicated capital market areas that the staff has done. just to take an example in the new york office, one of our flagship offices, many of the same -- the same groups that were involved in this case did the sham finite reinsurance cases involving aig, renaissance and others. highly complicated structured transactns in which no risk was being transferred, transactions done solely to augment balance sheets and earnings. we did those cases. we did them well. $800 million worth of discouragement. and penalties that went back to
investors. we can do a lot more with some specialized expertise. >> okay. the examination program actually has relatively few lawyers. i'm a lawyer for the program but there are only 13% of us. most examiners are accountants. many of them are very fine forensic accountants but i believe where we really need to grow and i believe i agree with you on this is to have more financial analysts. to have more trading specialists, people who understand difficult valuation issues. >> very logical. you don't have the resources to do that right now, do you? >> no, we do not. >> okay. and so just to reiterate, the kind of legislation i've introduced is really very much needed. really if you're going to stop all these future schemes as the markets get more complicated. you agree mr. khuzami? >> that may be the single best thing that you could do, senator. >> mr. walsh? >> yes, sir. >> mr. markopolos? >> yes, senator. >> the last question, the inspector general's report
states on a conference call about two madoff exams, quote, a senior level d.c. examiner reminded the judicial examiners that madoff, quote, was a very well-connected powerful person. which one of the new york examiners interpreted to raise a concern for them pushing madoff too hard. mr. markopolos, did you feel that mr. madoff's stature in the investment committee was an impediment to the sec uncovering his ponzi scheme? >> yes, senator, i do. i feel there's a protected species on wall street where the biggest an most powerful fir are given a free pass or a get out of jail card and go after the small fry. >> mr. walsh, could that have been true? >> well, sir, it's very difficult -- i think the inspector general concluded that while there was no direct interference in the examination by supervisors, he did, i believe, conclude that it could have been a secondary effect in what happened. we are taking this very
seriously. we have established an internal hotline so sec examiners anywhere around the country as soon as they believe they are being intimidated or a firm is acting inappropriately they can call the hotline and it will ring on the desk, my desk and a desk of a number of other senior ople who work with me. we are working -- >> but i think what they're saying here, you wouldn't call a hotline. what mr. markopolos is agreeing with and what the insctor general was saying was, because he was a powerful person, they sort of instinctively might not have been as tough as if he was a less powerful, less well-connected person. it's not a hotline that's going to change that. so let them ask mr. khuzami, what are you doing to deal with the issue that both the inspector general and mr. markopolos had pointed out to try and get into these sort of psychological barriers? >> the way to do something like
is tone at the top and communication and involved supervision, supervisors and magers, who recognize the situations where perhaps a more junior person may be susceptible to that kind of influence and that supervisor intervenes and closely monitors to make sure that's not happening. >> okay. good. anyone want to add anything because if not, we'll close the hearing and thank you for your time. but any -- you have any more comments, mr. markopolos? >> no, i do not, thank you, senator. >> any good metaphors? >> no, thank you. [laughter] >> mr. khuzami or walsh, any commts? you're not big on the metaphors. >> too many metaphors. >> i like metaphors as people know. thank all of you for coming. >> thank you. >> and the hearing's closed. [inaudible conversations] >> the u.s. senate gaveling in now for an hour of general
speeches. at 10:30 am eastern senators will observe a moment of silence in memory of those who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks eight years ago. following that they'll resume debate on the fiscal year 2010 transportation and housing spending bill. the senate's version provides $67.7 billion in discretionary spending for the departments of transportation and housing. now live senate coverage on c-span2. sfwlaish kwlooir .. senate will come to order. today's opening prayer will be offed by dr. alan keiran, the senate chaplain's chief of staff. the chaplain: let us pray. god of justice and
righteousness, tch our lawmakers to mobilize our national might for your glory. may their labors bring deliverance to captives, sight to the ethically and morally blind, and comfort to those who are bruised by life's thorns. give them a spiritual vitality that will enabl their faith to survive life's trials an tribulations. in deep humility of spirit, may they seek to know your will and demonstrate the courage to choose your way and purpose. when the choice is between honor an self-interest, may they never hesitate to do right. o god, we pause this day to remember all the victims of 9/11, their families, and the firefighters and police officers whose lives were sacrificed in heroic efforts to rescue those in need. bless our nation with renewed commitment to face today's challenges with tenacity and vigilance. we pray in your powerful name.
amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate. the clerk: washington, d.c, september 11, 2009, to the senate: under thprovisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable mark warner, a senator from the commonwealth of virginia, to perform the duties of the chair. signed: robert c. byrd, presidet pro tempore. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: under the previous order the leadership time is read served.
under the previous order there will now be a moment of silence in commemoration of the eighth anniversary of the september 11 attacks. mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: following leader remarks, there will be a period of morning business. it's my understanding that the distinguished republican whip wishes to have control of the first half-hour and the second half would be controlled by the democrats.
following that morning business, mr. president, which will last up to one hour, the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 3288, the transportation and housing appropriations bill, it was previously announced there will be no roll call votes during today's session of the senate. the presiding officer: the senate will proceed to a period of morning business until 10:30 a.m. with senators permitted to speak up to 10 nutes each. and that time -- mr. kyl: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from arizona. mrkyl: i ask unanimous consent that i speak in morning business for up to 30 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kyl: thank you, mr. president. following this moment of silence, i think all of us on this morning are reflecting on where we were, what we were doing on the morning of
september 11th, 2001. and in this body reflecting on the things that occurred thereafter, that enabled us to respond to that heinous terrorist attack, i wanted to read some comments which i wrote for the "arizona republic" that were printed this morning and then submit them for the record. eight years passed since al qaeda terrists attackedhe unitedtates. today we remember those who lost their lives and reminded of the evil of our enemy. terrorists have not struck our soil because we gained useful intelligence and thwart attks. this is due in part to -- vectd the terrorist attacks and provided recommendations to protect against future attacks known as the 9/11 commission, it described in detail a lack of cooperation among the justice department and members of the intelligence community prior to 9/11 that made the united states
more vulnerable to attack. it also described how second guessing of intelligence operations had caused intelligence agents to be risk averse an overly cautious in carrying out their duties. following the release of the commission's report, congress and government agencies made critical changes to improve intergovernmental cooperation an push the agencies to be bold in acting to protect themerican people. the result was an intelligence community that was aggressive in tracking, capturing and interrogating terrorists and devicing other technical means of gathering key intelligence of. the interrogation techniques during the post 9/11 produced ways to save lives, the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and the man that the c.i.a. called its preimminent source, revealed plans to carry the out an attack on the west coast and
attacks on that such as the brooklyn bridge. but the time has seemed to dimmed the memories as -- to appoint a prosecutor to reopen a previously closed investigation into the techniques intelligence officers ud to interrogate terrorists. there's little doubt that this step which could lead to criminal charges against intelligence officers will drive a wedge between the justice department and the intelligence community and discourage the intelligence community from acting aggressively. intelligence officers will not be able to focus on their crical responsibility of -- if they're worried that their actions, the actions they take today will be subject to legal recriminations when the political winds shift. indeed.i.a. director leon panetta sounded a similar warning that he has become increasingly concerned that this focus of what happened in the past will distract intelligence officers from their core mission of protecting america.
it will spur distrust between the justice department -- department and the intelligence community. the attorney general's decision to reopen this investigation will have serious repercussions and it's wholly unnecessary. when he announced the appointment of the prosecutor, the attorney general failed to acknowledge that the justice department investigated the alleged investigations. one individual was prosecuted and convicted for abuses. three former attorneys generals and numerou career prosecutors examined the evidence and determined that it does got support further prosecutionf intelligence officials. the president himself repeatedly said that he wants to look forward, not backward on this issue. but the actions of his administration, over which he has control, are inconsistent with his stated intent. i believe the nation would be better served if the administration focused more on supporting the intelligence community as it continues every
day to do the hard work of intelligence gathering rather than distracting it from its duties and chilling its activity. mr. president, i'd also like to speak this morning to reflect on the speech that president obama gave on wednesday evening. we've had time to reflect on its meaning, to have the pundits give their views on it, to see some reaction by the american people and to visit with colleagues about their reactions. and to answer the question whether it moved us further along a bipartisan solution to the health care challenges that we all acknowledge face our nation. i must report this morning, with some disappointment, that i do not believe it achieved that purpose. during the month of august, when we were back home talking with our constituents, the spoke to us about their concerns, their fears, about the plans that had been put forth by both house of representatives and the senate
commiptees, and we brought those ideas back to washington. i had hoped with the thought that there could be a readjustment, a pressing of the restart button, as it were, to have these bills in the house and senate more accurately reflect the will of the american people. public opinion surveys are virtually unanimous that public opinion does not favor the pla that have been presented to the congress. in fact, by roughly 52-42, these surveys say that american -- that the american people disagree with or disapprove of those proposed solutions. but rather than reflecting on whathe public has been saying, which the president did not do on wednesday evening, it seemed that he simply recharged the same program that he has been pushing for all of these many months now, criticized those who disagreed with him, and effectively threw down the
gauntlet and said it's going to be this way or no way. i don't think that that's the way to reach a bipartisan consensus or reflect the will of the american people. and i'm especially disappointed because in the president's comments there seem to be no room for honest disagreement. and i must tell you after working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle for month ons this, there are honest disagreements and, in fact, some honest disputes about some of the facts. and there has to be room for that honest debate rather than simply calling each other by pe majorrive -- some names. let me quote some of words that the prident used, a partisan spectacle, the opposition is yielding -- trying to score short-term political points. he talked about the bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. maybe there are some people who believe that. but that's not the people in this body or in the other body.
and to reach out to those with whom there are disagreements, i think the president has to use a different phraseology than suggesting that the only reason that people disagree with him is to kill reform at any cost. he talked about lies from prominent politicians and arguments that were false and said, to my republican friends, i say rather than making wild claims about a government takeover, we could -- we should work together, and so on. well, i talked to my constituents, and they are very, very concerned about the roll of government in their -- role of government in their health care decisions and the decisions of theiramilies and their doctors. when you read the legislation, i don't think there is wild claims to say that the role of government would be much, much grear than it is today and to an extent that causes great fear and concern. the president talked about the demagoguerand distortion and
said, don't pay attention to scary stories. of course, he had some pretty scary stories in his speech. there is nothing wrong to pointing out pblems that are serious to spur people to action. but if it's ok for one side, it ought to be ok for those who disagreesm finally, he said he's not going to waste time wit those who made a calculation that it is better politics to kill this plan than improve it. if that's the only motivation, i would agree. that is not the motivation of the people in the other body or this body with whom he disagrees. finally he said if you disagree with the plan, we'll call you out on it. that is a chicago style of politics that doesn't have a place in a presentation in the house of representatives where i've heard five presidents give speeches and by far and away this was the most political and, therefore, i think the least effective in bringing people together for a bipartisan solution. i must also say that the most
disappointing thing was when i would say a rather -- a -- an inability to confront honestly differences of opinion and have an honest debate about those disagreements. the president is very good at what i call a straw man. he sets up an argument that nobody made an knocks it down and claims success. that is a disi disingenuous wayo make an argument. t me cover three or four points that he made in his speech. you heard the president say for months, if you like your insurance, you get to keep it. w many times have you heard him say that? if youike your insurance, you get to keep it. the problem is that's not true under either the house or senate bills. i'll explain why in a moment. it's not true. eventually the president's advisers must he said, you can't say that, it's not true.
let's reform the way you say it so what you say is legally, technically true. so wednesday night for the first time here's what the president said: he said nothing in thi plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or doctor you have. nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change. well, nobody ever said there was anything in the bill that required you or your employer to change. we simply read the bills and observed that as a result of the legislative language they would change because your plans would no longer exist. so, naturally, if your plans no longer exist or if your employer said -- i'm not going to cover you anymore because it's cheaper to go to the public option, then you would lose your coverage. eo the president changed the language to be technically correct leaving the impression that what he said before is still true when in fact it's not. both the c.b.o. and the lewin
group, a totally objective analysis, demonstrate that for two separate reasons it still is true that if you like your insurance, you're not going to be ablto keep it. the lewin group notes that of over 100 million americans, probably closer to 120 million americans who will go to the public option or the government-run plan as the president proposed, 88 million o those will lose their employer-sponsored insurance because it's cheaper for the employer to drop their coverage, pay the bine, and allow them to enroll in the government program. 88 million. for senior citizens -- and this is especially important iny state of arizona, 7 million seniors, according to c.b.o., will los their private medicare plan coverage. that's because the president's plan, these bills, drastically reduce the support that is provided to insurance plans called medicare advantage, whose primary purpose is to serve people in more rural or less populated areas, but they exist
in urban areas as well. over 10 million seniors are enrolled in medicare advantage plans. in my state, we have one of the highest ratesf enrollment, with about 39% of medice beneficiaries in the medicare advantage plans. the president and the democrats who have written this legislation would like to do away with those medicare sprang plans -- medicare advantage plans. as a result of the language of the bills, according to k c.b.o. -- according to c.b.o., at least 7 million seniors will be moved off because tse plans will no longer be available. while of course the president is correct that nothing in the plan requires you to leave your coverage if you like it, the reality is that over 88 million people who have insurance through their employer and 7 million seniors who have medicare advantage plans will lose their coverage because of the provisions of the bill. so the factemains it's still not true if you like your insunce you're going to be able to kp it, at least for
almost 100 million -- well, to be totally accurate, about 95 million americans. the president made another argument. he said i know that you republicans have been interested in medical malprtice reform, so i'm going to do something about that. this too was a -- i have to characterize it as a very disingenuous proposal. everybody knows that there is a huge amount of money that could be saved in health care delivery if we did something to reform this jackpot justice system that requires physicians to pay huge, in fact, to pay, by one estimate, 10 cents of every health care dollar spent for their premiums for malpractice insurance. another study demonstrated that over $100 billion a year is wasted in physicians and hospitals practicing defensive medicine the senate is not in order to protect -- medicine in order to protect themselves from these liability suits, malpractice suits we've been pushing for
malpractice reform for years. what was the president's response? he's going to ask the secretary of h.h.s. -- kathleen sebelius -- to look into an idea that the bush administration was promoting after the senate rejected on almost partisan lines mical malpractice reform proposed by republicans. secretary sebelius was the director of the kansas trial lawyers association. in 1978 to 1986. and some kind of encouragement to the states to develop some kind of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms is hardly tort reform. so, given the fact that this is a huge problem, a lot of money could be saved if we have meaningful tort reform. we believe it would be better to develop real tort reform and include it in the legislation rather than simply direct the secretary to look into something that i think is bound to result in virtually nothing.
a third point that i think is highly misleading, and this got a lot of publity because of the unfortunate comments by a member of congress in a very uncourteous comment to the president. the president said that reforms i'm proposing today would not apply to those who are here illegally. in one sense that's a true statement because there is not a provision that says we're going to cover illegal immigrants. by the same token, on repeated occasions when members of the house of representatives sought tonsure that illegal immigrants would not be covered, amendments to ensure eligibility requirements and confirmation of eligibility by assuring that only u.s. citizens would receive this -- that the benefits of the program, those amendments were defeated. so it's been proposed tha maybe we could just resolve this question -- who's right -- by agreeing to a simple amendment that says illegal immignts will not have benefits of this
program and there's going to be enough confirmation of their eligibility or noneligibility to ensure that that's the case. that's how we could resolve it. we could do the same thing with regard to funding of abortions. there's an argument, are they or are they not? there is a very simple answer. instead of rejecting the hatch amendment, which was done in committee, adopt the hatch amendment which says no funding of abortions. i think we're going to know pretty clearly is there an intent to deceive here, to have the language seem to prevent illegal immigrants or funding for abortions, but in reality it ends up that they get the coverage or that abortions are funded? there's a very simple solution. adopt the republican language that makes it very clear. but, no, that hasn't been done, and we'll see whether it will b done. i thought one of the most unfortunate phrases the president used was in speaking to america's seniors, he said not a dollar of the medicare trust fund will be used to pay
for this plan. and the president acknowledged in his speech that about half of the cost of the almost $1 trillion expen of this plan will be by virtue of cuts in medicare. i think he used the word savings in medicare. the question is well what exactly are those cuts? what is that savings? what the president said was not a dollar of the medicare trust fund will be used to pay for this plan, as if that answers the question and seniors shouldn't be worried. first of all, nobody said the trust fund was going to be used. does anybody know how much money is in the trust fund? i'll tell you. zip. the trust fund is broke. medicare is in big financial trouble. there isn't any money in the trust fund to pay for anything. nobody ever suggested that was the problem. here's the problem: twofold. one, they're going to get somewhere, a little less than $200 billion by reducing the allocations to the plans that provide medicare advantage. i talked about that earlier.
they don't like medicare advantage because it's a private alternative. and so they want to get seniors off of medicare advantage. and that's why seniors who like medicare advantage are out of luck, because they reduce the support for those plans by almost $200 billion. that's where part of it comes from. and the rest of it -- $300 billion or so -- comes from getting rid of waste, fraud and abuse. that's when you hrd laughter in the chamber because we've been trying to get rid of waste, fraud and abuse for years. and it's very, very hard to do. the president provided absolutely no specifics. none of the bills have specifics about this. nobody knows how this is going to be done. and it's very unrealistic to expect it will occur in any way except what some have acknowledged, which is that the paents to providers -- that is to, say, doctors, hospitals, nurses and others -- will be reduced. that's how we'll -- quote -- "save that money." what happens when you don't --
bear in mind, these are providers that today receive on the order of 70% o reimbursement from medicare, 70% of what this costs them to provide the serces. that's why those who buy private ifsurance have to pay more than 100%. they have to subsidize the other 30% or thereabouts that medicare does not cover. so what happens when you reduce that even further, when you cut that down to 60%, let's say, or 50%? it's going to raise the premiums of everyone else who have to increase their subsidy for the government program. and it ends up reducing the care available for seniors. there aren't as many doctors. the waiting lines get longer. the care that's available decreases and we end up with rationing. that's what seniors are concerned about. this is not wild charge. this is not a falsity. it's in the bills. and the president attempts to distract attention from it by saying we're not going to spend any money in the trust fund to pay for this.
so what, there isn't any money in the trust fund. the question is: are you going to hurt seniors' care by cutting physicians and hospital payments in medicare and eliminating support for medicare advantage plans? that's what's in the two bills. that is what is going to hurt seniors. . president, there are a lost arguments here that don't really match up to the claims made. they setp a straw man and knock down the straw man, but still standing is the fact that the bills that are in the congress will give the government a much greater role in our health care decisions, will increase pmiums for millions of people, will result in rationing of care, will put the doctor -- or the government in charge of decisions with respect to treatment, and all of these are concerns that people expressed during the month of august, and some before, that need to be addressed. instead of simply doubling down, as some folks said and saying it's going to be my way or else
we will call out those who disagree with us, i think we ought to listen to the american people. what i hear they have said is the following: first of all, rather than taking on a massive new spending program, close to $1 trillion, adding several trillion to the debt over the next couple of decades, rather than increasing our debt, rather than having another government takeover following all those that have occurred so far, let's focus on the most pressing problem facing americans, and that is putting america back to work, getting the economy going again. reducing our debt, and making sure that we don't have new taxes. that's what we'd like to have you focus on. now, to the extent that there are specific problems with health care, deal with those as well. but you can do that on a step-by-step basis in a way that targets specific solutions to specific problems. i mentioned the problem of defensive medicine costs. over $100 billion a year in
money that we shouldn't be spending, but doctors force us to spend it to protect themselves from this jackpot justice system. the way to resolve that is with real medical malpractice reform. we don't need a demonstration project. i'llive yo a couple. texas and arizona, by passing modest malpractice reforms, significant progress has been made in reducing medical costs, reducing premiums and in fact attracting doctors. i'm told something like 7,000 doctorors have moved into texasn the last four years pretty much as a direct result of the more benign climate in which they can practice medicine as a result of this malpractice reform. premiums have been cut to i think it was either 21% or 23%. the bottom line is we have a demonstration project. we know what works. let's target a stpefbg solution to a specific -- target a specific solution to a specific problem. we don't have to worry about taking over the whole private sector of health care delivery and putting at risk the
insurance people already have that serves them well. finally, mr. president, i would note there was some discrepancy between what the president said about his plan and the bls that are pending in congress, and my colleague, senator corker, has written to the president and asked if we could get a copy of his bill. because some of the things he described are not in either the house or senate bill. at least they don't accurately describe those two bills. i'll give you one example. he said i will not sign a plan that adds a dime to our deficits either now or in the future period. that's great. unfortunately both the house and senate bills according to c.b.o. add to the deficit. the committee bill in the senate about $750 billion worth, in the house about $239 billion worth. clearly these two bills are not what the president is talking about. obviously he has something else in mind. if he's going to be selling that to the american people, we need to see it. so i would encourage the white house to send up the legislation
they have so we can see what it is they're talking about that's different from these other two bills. i said finally, but just one final point here. the president didn't talk about how he's going to pay for this except for the medicare cuts. he didn't mention the taxes on small business, jobs, taxes on employers, penalties individuals would have to pay if they don't buy insurance as is mandated here, even a tax on the chronically ill. senator baucus is proposing to limit flexible spending account contributions to $2,000 which would raise about $18 billion. what it would do is penalize those who have significant illnesses and would like to make larger contributions to their flexible spending accounts. mr. president, americans have a right to be concerned both about the cost of this, the way that it's paid for, the effect on their health care, the effect on their family's future. and i think we need to debate it
in honest and forthright way. i'm not pulling any punches this morning. i'm hoping that we can bring people together to recogze that what the american people are asking for is a step-by-step approach that targets solutions to specific problems and doesn't try to do it in the kind of comprehensive way that results in a 1,300 page bill that frankly nobody will read except some staffers. we won't know what's in it until well afterhe fact and which is very hard for cgress to get right. the unintended consequences of that kind of legislation is always enormous. the costs is always greater than predicted and the impact on the american people can be dil -- me is that we will take the time to listen to this. get away from the massive government intrusion reflected
in both of theills considered by the house and senate and, most importantly, focus first and foremost on wha is most on the minds of the american people domestically, and that is the -- the economic situation here that will be made worse if we impose new taxes on small businesses, for example, it will be made worse if we take on massive new debt, focus on putting people back to work, not spending as much money, not adding to our debt, and then decide what kind of solutions we can afford with respect to health care. if we do that, i think we will have complied with the request of our constituents, which, after all, is what we're here to do, and we'll have done something good for the american people, and we'll not have violated that first principle of medicine which is do no harm. the people inmerica were clear in the month of august that we wanted -- that they wanted us to stop with that proposition and i
think it would do us good to do that in the reform. mr. levin: mr. president, today we mark a solemn aiversary. we were attacked by terrorists and it is always appropriate to remember the shock of that day, the innocent lives lost and the efforts of our nation has me since to ensure that afghanistan, the nation that hosted those terrorists, cannot again become a safe haven for terrorists seeking to attack us. today is an especially appropriate occasion to take stock of those efforts and consider how best to continue them. i recently returned -- from a trip to afghanistan where i was joined by colleagues, senators jack reed and ted kaufman. the situation in afghanistan is serious. security has deteriorated. but if we take the right steps, we can ensure that afghanistan does not revert to a taliban-friendly government that could once again provide a safe
haven for al qaeda to terrorize us and the world. the obama administration's new strategy focusing on securing the afghan population's safety and partnering with the afghan security forces in that effort is an important start at reversing the situation in afghanistan. thehange in strategy has led our forces in the wor of general mcchrystal's counterinsurgency guidance to -- quote -- "live, eat, and train together with the afghan security forces, depend on one another and hold each other accountable and treat them as equal partners in success." the general's guidance goes on to say that the success o the afghan security forces -- quote -- "is our goal." to achieve that goal, we should increase and accelerate our efforts to support the afghan security forces in their efforts to become self-sufficient, delivering security to their nation.
before we consider whether to increase u.s. combat forces above the levels already planned for the next few months. these steps include increasing the size of the afghan army and police much faster than presently planned. providing more trainers for the afghan army and police than presently planned. providing them with more equipment than presently planned and looking to separate local taliban fighters from their leaders and attrack them to our side of the gov as we did in iraq. while the security situation in afghanistan has worsened, we have important advantages there the afghan people hat the taliban the public opinion polls there show support for the taliban at 5%. in addition, the afghan army is highly motivated and its troops are proven fighters. despite those advantages, we face challenges.
general mcchrystal believes and i believe that we need to regain the initiative. general mrk crystal worries an rightly so about the perception at we have lost that initiative and the impact of that perception on the afghan people, their government, al qaeda and the taliban the by contrast if we can dispel that perceptionwe have a chance to commonsense will he local and lower-level taliban fighters to lay down their arms and rejoin afghan society. i believe the most effective way to retak the initiative in afghanistan is with a series of steps to ensure that afghan's army and police have the manpower, equipment and support to secure their own nation. first, we should increase troop levels for the afghan army and policeaster than currently planned. there are approximately 90,000 troops in the afghan army now. and that number is scheduled to go up to 134,000 by october of
2010. the afghan police are seduled to reach a level of 82,000 by the same time. for a long time many of us have urged the establishment of a goal of 240,000 afghan troops and 160,000 afghan police by 2013. the afghan minut minister of dee support those numbers. it appears that the afghan government and our government will accept those goals. the need for afghan forces is more urgent. i believe it is both possie and essential to advance those goals by a year to 2012. our own military in afghanistan has repeatedly pointed to a need for more afghan forces. in one sector of helman
province, our marines outnumbered afghan soldiers by 5-1. a -- it was said that a lack of afghan troopts -- quote -- "is absolutely our akeely's -- achilles' heel." what dwe need to do? according to one expert, there is no lack of afghan manpower, we are assured it is available the we will need more trainers. we asked the general formika, to train security forces, whether such an increase is possible. he indicated he would make an assessment of what would be necessary in order to meet the timetable. wehould press our nato alls wi greater forcefulness to provide more trainers. if o nato ally also not come through with the combat forces that they pledge, at least they
can provide additional trainers. the larger afghan security forces will alsoequire more mid-level afghan officers in addition to support efforts to graduate more afghan officers froe army akad miss, we should consider the recommendation of defense minister wardack, these who fought against the sovietã return to service on an interim basis. those men are well qualified and motivated. while they might not be trained in the most currenting tactics, they nonetheless could meet the need of the enlarged army while the new group of officers is trained. a larger afghan force will need supporting infrastructure such as barracks while the available infrastructure might not be the most modern, it is adequate and is in sufficient amounts. the larger afghan security forces will require additional
equipment. there must be a major effort to trsfer a significant amount of the equipment coming out of iraq to the afghan army and police. such a significant commitment to equip the afghan security forces would also hel demonstrate u.s. determination to take the initiative and create momentum in the right direction. there is an enormous amount of equipment coming out of iraq. our military is calling it one of greatest transfers of military goods in world history. a significant part of it could be transferred to the afghan forces, increasing their capability without weakening our own readiness. and, yet, there does not seem to be that kind of a crash effort in place to do just that. we need to obtain on an urgent basis a list of the basic equipment needs of the afghan forces and a list of how those needs could be met in a more program to transfer equipment leaving iraq.
rapidly expanding afghan's military and police forces would address one of the challenges we face. general mcchrystal said that waiting until 2014 creates a gap in capabilities that brings significant risk of failure. but if we accelerate the training and equipping of afghan forces by a year, we address his concern. depending on additional capability from afghanistan rather than u.s. forces also addresses a major problem of public perception in afghanistan. the larger our own military footprint there, the more our enemies can seek to drive a wedge between us and the afghan population spreading the falsehood that we seek to dominate a muslim nation. finally, we should make a concted effort to separate the local taliban from their leaders. in iraq large numbers of young
iraqis, who had been attacking us switched over to our side and became the sons of iraq. they sere drawn, in part, by the promise of jobs and amnesty for past attacks and in part, by the recognition that the status quo was creating horrific violence in their own communities. in their own interest and the interest of their nation, they switched sides and became a positive force. that same prospect exists in afghanistan. afghan leaders and our own military leaders say that local talibanorces are motivated largely by the need for a job, by loyalty to the local leader to pace them, and not by ideology r religious zeal. ey believe an effort to attract these fighters to the government side could succeed if they are offered security for themselves and their families and if there's no penalty for previous activity against us.
general mcchrystal himself has emphasized the pro kengsal for sucheintegration -- the potential for reintegration as what was achieved in iraq. here is what he said on july 28 -- quote --"most of the fighters we see in afghanistan are afghans, most we don't see are deeply idealogical or politically motivated. most are operating for pay. some are under a commander's leadership, some are fstrated with local leaders. so i believe, general mcchryst said, there is significant potential to go after what i would call mid and low-lel taliban fighters and leaders and offer them reintegration into afghanistan under the constitution. close quote. but this game-changing possibility was apparently not factored in -- into general mcchrystal's assessment.
there is no plan yet to put in place a sons of iraq approach in afghanistan. it is urgent that we lay out the steps that need to be taken to volve local and national afghan leaders in that effort. they alone can accomplish this crucial job, but first we and our afghan allies must draft such a plan on an urgent basis. and theotential positive impact of such a plan should be taken int account as we consider the need f any additional u.s. military resources. afghanistan's people are grateful for our aid, but also eager tossume responsibility for their own future. in a tiny village we were invited to meet with the village elders at their council meeting called ashura. 100 or so men sitting on the floor chatted with us about their future and their country's futu. when asked how long the united states should stay one elder
said -- quote -- "until the moment that you make our security forces self-sufficient, then you wille welcomed to visit us, not as soldiers, but as guests." helping afghanistan achieve self-sufficiency in their own -- and their own security is everybody's goal. on that there's little difference of opinion and afghanistan's village councils are in the corridors of this capitol. can we help afghanistan reach self-sufficiency and security fast enough? can we get there in a way that regains the initiatives an creates the momentum that we need? can we encourage the lower-level taliban to abandon an insurgency headed by terrorists who fanaticism they don't share? i believe we can by supporting a a far more rapid growth in the afghan army and police. by providing more trainers more quickly. by a rapid infusion of two
afghan units of equipment no longer needed in iraq. and by adopting a plan for reintegration of lower-lel taliban fighters into afghan soety. in other words, we need a surge of afghan security forces. our support of their surge will show our commitment to the successive mission that is clearly in our national security interest without creating a bigger military footprint that provides propaganda fodder for the taliban. i believe that taking those steps on an urgent basis while completing the previously planned and announced increase in u.s. combat forces provides the best chance of success for our mission, preventing afghanistan from again being run by a taliban government which harbs and supports al qaeda, whose goal is to infli additional catastrophic attacks on the united states and the
world. and i believe that we should implement those steps before considering an increase in u.s. ground combat fors beyond what is already planned by the end of the year. i yield the floor, and i thank the presiding officer. i thank the senator from ohio as well. the presiding officer: the senator from ohio. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. i thank senator levin for his terrific leadership. mr. bond: excuse me. i thought i would have time at 10:30. may i ask my colleague how lg -- mr. brown: i will speak no more than ten minutes. you will be free to have the floor by 10:30. mr. bond: pardon? mr. brown: i will yield the floor well before 10:30. mr. bond: you said two minutes? mr. brown: up to ten minutes. mr. bon could i ask that morning business be extended? i need 15 minutes.
i'd ask that the morning business be extended for an additional ten minutes for -- to accommodate my colleague from ohio. the presiding officer: is there objection? mr. nelson: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: if the senator would amend that to include the senator from florida as well. mr. bond: mr. -- the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. bond: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. bond: i ask that the quorum call be dispensed with. the presidg officer: without objection. mr. bond: mr. president, i ask that the senator from ohio be recognized for ten minutes, that i be recognized for 15 minutes, that following that the senator from florida be recognized for 15 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. bond: i thank the chair. mr. brown: thank you, mr. president. i thank the senator from missouri and the senator from florida. two nights ago the president of the united states spoke in the chamber down the hall on the other side of the capitol. and he did what he needed to do. i've been in the house and
senate -- the house for 14 years, t senate now for 2 1/2 years. it's the best speech i'd ever seen in my time sitting and listening to the last three presidents. most importantly, it had -- it explained why this health care bill is so important and why it works for those who already have insunce as a builds consumer protections around those insurance policies, no more preexisting conditions, no more cutting people's care off because they have been too expensive, no more discrimination based on gender or disability or age or geography. it explainedhy this legislation makes sense for people who don't have insurance, who have been without insurance or who have inadequate insurance. and it really did explain well why this legislation is so important to small business. mr. president, i've come t this floor almost daily when we're in session inhe last few months to share stories of ohioans. i know that the presiding officer, as he's traveled the
state in northern virginia and richmond and roanoke and all over his state has heard, gets these stories, these kinds of letters too showing the depth o the problem. so many people don't have health care, but so many that do have insuranceave seen sigficant problems in their insurance. they've paid their premiums month after month after month after month after month, they be ey get -- then they get very sick. they may have to take biologic drugs. their insurance, aer paying -- their health care may have cost $100,000 or $200,000. the insurance companies cut them off. how is that fai let me share some of these letters today, just for another seven or eight minutes and make comments about them. ev from wakeman from northern ohio writes my husband a union carpenter was out of work for seven months straight. he went back to work in june on a week by week basis.
he must get 130 hours of work per month to get insurance. otherwise we have to pay for cobra which expires by the end of the year. i add is also expensive. in june he earns 129 1/2 hours. we're told because it was not the required 130 hours we had to pay out of our pocket. we offered to pay for the half-hour. we were told no, we could not. there is no way in the world we can afford to pay for private health insurance. my husband doesn't have enough hours. we have no insurance. it goes month to month like that. i'm a wife, mother, sister, a cousin and aunt. i want to liv it's almost -- she loses her insurance. she can't get insance out of a technicality. those things won't happen under this health insurance legislation that we're considering in the weeks ahead, wherensurance companies can deny care for a whole host of reasons, where somebody might not quite qualify for health insurance. evon and her husband will be able to go in the health care exchange. they could get insurance if they
chose from aetna or blue cross. they can work with their union plan that her husband apparently has as a carpenter or they could go into the public option. theyould have those choices. bob from cleveland, bob's been an owner of a steel processing firm since 1990, had to grapple with deteriorating health benefits over the last five years. his firm employs 30 employees, 20 of wm depend on the company's depreciating health care coverage while the remaining 10 have had to use alternative forms of insurance, perhaps a spouse that works that has a good insurance plan. he's hoping the reform will address the burden shouldered by small business and congress will craft legislation that protects individuals and small businesses from high insurance deductibles and premiums. understand, and the presiding officer has been in business before he was governor of virginia and understands thi is a -- this as a businessperson that when you have a small number of employees, you pay more for employee for insurance
than if you're a larger company. if you have 20 or 30 employees and two or three get very sick and get very expensive care, that small business person, the owner sees, the company sees its premiums, its costs go way, way up or they sometimes get cut off entirely. this legislation will allow bob and his business to take his entire business, if he so chooses, into the exchange and go to a medical mutual in cleveland, a not-for-profit ohio company, or go to aetna or go to blue cross or the plic option. bob would have that choice with his business. he also would be eligible for significant tax credits as a small business person. ricky fro garfield heights, ohio, ricky writes my doctor tried to order an m.r.i. for back pain. the insurance company declined the request saying i had to try therapy which worsened my condition. finally the insurance approved an m.r.i. shortly after that my employer could no longer afford that
insurance. we had to switch to a new provider which meant i had to find a new doctor. still suffering from back pain, the new doctor told me i needed another m.r.i. i asked about using the first m.r.i., but the new insurance company told me i had to get another one. i'm back to square one with a bulging disk i my back. one of the important things of this legislation is you can keep what you have. if you have a physician, you will not be forced into another plan a have to choose another physician or another hospital or another physical therapist. perhaps in ricky's case. or another occupational therapist. sharon from southern ohio, outside cincinnati, between dayton, cincinnati, and warren county. my husband had a stroke in 2009, was released from the hospital a few weeks ago. that's when the real problem started. one private insurer increased copays to $560 a week for the therapy my husband needs. insurance will stop by the end of the year. there's been a lot of worry.
we need help now. mr. president, that's the point. this legislation, some people have said -- i had tn hall meetings. i had meetings all over my state, as many did here. typically more people that were supportive -- the people that showed up, more of them were for the bill than against. there was certainly a significant number of people against it. a lot of peoe said you've got to slow down. we don't want to take this too fast. president obama said this the other night, teddy roosevelt wanted this 100 years. harry truman, president kennedy, present johnson, president clinton, so many people tried to do this. we've been working on this legislation intensively all year. the committee on which i sit -- the health, education, labor, pension committee which senator kennedy chaired -- that committee had 11 days of what's called markup, intensive debate and vetting. i've never seen a committee have that long a period of examination of a bill like that. we accepted 160 republican amendments that i voted for most
of those amendments. this bill has got a lot of bipartisan aspects to it. on the big questions, there's philosophical disagreement to be sure. the point is every day we wait, every day we wait, 390 people in my state lose their insurance. 390 people every single day. sharon from springboro doesn't want us to way any longer. we've waited and waited. we've worked on this. we need to do this by thend of the year. i'll conclude with this, mr. president, because i know senator bond wants to takehe floor in moment. vondalee from franklin county. we need health iurance reform. my stepfather has medicaid without which he would have died some time ago. as a young man he had routine shoulder surgery but was transfused with blood that was contaminated with help tights-c. he suffers from other problems he suffers from other problems thank goodness he had medicaid because he would not have been able to pay for his care and
recovery. please help the people, not the insurers or pharmaceutical companies. mr. president, your comment about the insurance or pharmaceutical companies, i was here in the house of representatives when the medicare partial privatization legislation was writpen five or six years ago. by and large it was written by the drug and insurance companies. it provided a lot of public dollars that went to both those industries. frankly, there are -- there is a very strong insurance lobby here in this congress today. the insurance industry and a lot of the opponents of this bill are spending up to $1 million a day lobbying against it. this leglation, the insurance companies don't like this legislation. a lot of the myths that have come, that we hear in our town meetings, myths about illegal immigrants getting cere under this plan, not true. the myths about death penalties, not true. a lot of that comes out of the insurance industry in this tn. they've got a lot to lose. if this legislation passes, insurance companies aren't going
to do quite as well as they have been doing. but this bill is in the plic interest, not so much in the special interests. so, mr. president, that -- some of those are some of the letters i've received. i know many in this body receive letters just like this from people all over their states. this legislation is necessary. we need to work hard and move forward on this in the weeks ahead. i yield the floor and thank the president. mr. bond: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from missouri. mr. bond: mr. president, i thank the chair. eight years ago today terrorists based in afghanistan carried out the deadliest attacks on american soil since pearl harbor. it was on that horrifying september morning in 2001 that america's worst fears were realized. no longer was terrorism something that only happened on the other side of the globe. instead, those terrorist killers struck the very heart of america, here at home. long before 9/11, there were deadly warnings, warningshat
for most part went unheeded. for over two decades al qaeda and other terrorists attacked our nation, from the marine barracks bombing in beirut in 1983 to the pan am 103 bombing in 1988, from the first world trade center bombing in 1993, embassy bombings in 1998, to the u.s.s. cole attack in 2000. while al qaeda declared war against the united stas a long time ago, it took the tragedy of september 11 and the loss of thousands of lives before america decided to fight back. today, as we reflect on the anniversary of 9/11 and the live losthat day, we can honor the victims and their families by finishing the job in afghanistan and defeating the terrorists who are bent on death and destruction i agree with the comments from my colleague, the senator from michigan, who said that we need to build thefghan armyo
240,000. we need to build and strengthen the afghan police. but we also must support president obama's chosen general, general stanley mcchrystal and his request for needed troops and resources. president obama has called afghanistan an international challenge, security challenge of the highest order. i agree. when the president stressed -- quote -- "the safety of people around the world is at stake" he did not overstate the importance of succeeding in afghanistan. president ama used even starker terms when he spoke to our veterans at this year's v.f.w. convention and said -- quote -- "those who attacked america on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. if left unchecked, the taliban insurgency will mean an even larnger safe haven -- larger safe haven where al qaeda will
plot to kill americans. so this is not only a war worth fighting, this is fundamental to the defense of our people." close quote. iould not agree more. while the president used this week to pitch health care reform, i hope after reflecting on the anniversary of the september 11th attacks, that he will focus his attention on achieving victory in afghanistan. to repeat,errorism is the remere challenge of our time. -- premier challenge of our time. if we fail to conquer this challenge, nothing will matter much, not even health care reform. i can tell you phat al qaeda and other radical islamist terrorists have not tried to stop striking americans her at home and our allies around the world. it is critical that in my own party that republicans support president obama in the fight against terrorists. we republicans must demonstrate
that politics ends at the water's edge and strongly support the strategy the president has laid out with his generals for a victory in afghanistan. let us aid the politic we too often saw in iraq. declaring defeat where our troops and -- in theater were fighting for their lives and our freedom, undercutting our president while he tried to help alleys to join us in the battle. for my democratic colleagues, i hope that the follow the irring words of their leader of their party at the v.f.w. don't give into the pundits, don't give into the left wing that has declared defeat in afghanistan as they did so vocally in iraq. much, i might add to the grave concerns of the troops in harm's way, which i heard firsthand by e-mail from my son in fallujah. many of the naysayers are saying that victory in afghanistan
isn't possible. we hear the refrain over and over, it's been eight years, why haven't we left? unfortunately our country has a history of aban@oning afghanistan. earlier is week in an interview, defense secretary robert gates acknowledged what a serious strategic mistake our nation made turning our backs on afghanistan after soviet forces were defeated there two decades ago. sadly, under administrations of both pties, america has repeatedly ignored the lessons of history, repeatedly turned our backs on afghanistan. it is no wonder the people of afghanistan doubt our commitment tm their defense. the problems we face in afghanistan today are in many ways more complex than those we faced on september 12, 2001. we know that al qaeda has found sanctuary in pakistan's federally administered tribal area. the taliban government is gone, but the taliban insurgency has
risen and grown in strength. it has prevented t true afghan government to estabsh itself throughout afghanistan an threatens afghanistan's long-term ability. if it is not stopped, this inrgency could allow a safe haven for al qaeda and other terrorist groups to flourish in ghanistan. we cannot let that happen. president obama's new strategy implemented by general mcchrystal is our best chance at success. while we're on the right path to long-term victory in afghanistan, the road won't be easy. in fact, it will get worse before it gets better. we've seen evidence of this already. the fighting has been tough in afghanistan the last few months and too many of our brave troops have been wounded or killed in action. these recent casualties should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been following events in afghanistan. u.s. marines recently began
clearing rural areas in souther afghanistan that served as taliban safe havens for years. before the operations began, our military commanders very clearedly -- clearly warned congress and the american people that taking southern afghanistan back from the taliban would be costly. as the father of a marine who served two tours in iraq, i didn't take this news lightly. many of my colleagues in the senate and i agree then and agree now that defeating the militants is a job that must be done. our brave marines will no doubt succeed in clearing these areas in southern afghanistan of terrorists. the same terrorists who throw acid in the facef young girls on their way to school and kill mullas who have the audacity to disagree. much needs to be done in a country recovering from decades of war. key to our success is general mcchrystal's recognition of the importance of building
stain able security in afghanistathrough the use of smat power, combining military power with economic, development, education, and diplomatic strategies. while we need military forces to buildecurity in the short term, sustaining long-term security requires sma power. before afghans can choose peace in the democratic process, they need enough food to eat and a stable community in which to live. that's exactly wt smart power seeks to do. this same strategy is proving successful in afghanistan's province. during a visit to afghanistan in 2006, with generale eikenberry,i heard the need to rebuild the cultal section in afghanistan. i tried to do so through a university consortium tt would set up a service through usaid, unfortunately, usaid lackedhe vision to enact this vision.
i told the airmen whose civilian lives were farmers an possessed other expertise to empower the afghans. for over a year the agricultural development teams, a.d.t., helped afghans value high -- have high-value. decades of war in afghanistan have left most of the country mired in 18th century practices. ese a.d.t. teams provide agricultural specialists to help the afghans rebuild their agricultural no how and sow the seeds of peace in afghanistan. thanks to the a.d.t.'s hard work poppy production has been virtually eliminated where it was the second most prolific producer of poppies before. the first of these teams started to work in february of 2008. the second rotation is under way, and i just joined friends and family back in missouri to
celebrate the sendoff of the third rotation of the a.d.t. by showing a consistent commitment to the people, these citizen soldiers have built relationships and trust at the local level, influencing the hearts and minds to reject radical extremists. like the show me state motto, missourians have shown the way forward. thanks to their leadership, 10 other states are sending agricultural specialist teams to provinces in afghanistan. this makes it clear that we need to increase the investment in smart power strategies. 10 other state national guards are committed to the vital mission of building sustainable economies, protecting them with military force province by province. we need appropriate military protection invery province in afghanistan of the guard is uniquely suited to this mission, but we also need federal military and economic efforts. in addition to smart power,
general mcchrystal understands that counterinsurgency strategy is key to success in afghanistan. i've been disappointed to listen to the talking heads here in washington advocating for an alternative approach, emir counterterrorism strategy. it's easy, of course, to play armchair general from thousands of miles, but these talking heads seem to have forgotten that the counterterroris strategy failed in iraq and, not surprisingly, it's failed so far in afghanistan. counterterrorism by remote control doesn't cut it. the so-called surgical strikes whether air or ground increased civiln casualties and only allowed insurgents from the taliban to al qaeda to filter bk in once the attacks are over. this approach leaves the people in the country subject to retaliation if they don't cooperate with terrorists. the counterinsurgency strategy will ensure the violent
insurgents are defeated and don't come back. i agree with the administration that part of this strategy must allow some of the day fighters, those who are not taliban idealogues to lay down their reference and return to peaceful lives. if we're getting the job done right, we will lure desperate young men away from the false promises of extremism. a viable and appropriately resourced couerinsurgency is noonly successful for success in afghanistan, it is pivotal in the future of pakistan. driving terrorist safe havens out of eastern and southern gas is crucial, but not in taliban militants continue to find sanctuary in the remote borders of pakistan. the threat these transplanted terroristsose has become more real in the recent months as the world watched the taliban creep closer to military fits. we -- facilits, we muss
support the -- we must support afghanistan. the horrors of nuclear armed terrorists would be put at risk and put at risk freedom-loving people everywhere, not a risk that we or the world can take. the stakes of turning our back on this conflict could not be higher. america ignored the fact tha afghanistan became one giant training camp for terrorists in the 1990's. thousands of americans died on 9/11 as a result. and thousands of our brave troops have died in defense of our nation since then. we face a similar threat today eight years after 9/11. al qaeda shifted their terrorist sanctuaries from afghanistan to the fatah of pakistan. the taliban, people who sheltered osama bin laden now fight efforts by the international community to bring stability to afghanistan. a u.s. withdral in whole orn part froafghanistan now would
be unambiguous approval for the return of taliban control over afghanistan. in turn, this would lead to the establishment of safe havens for many of the world's most violent and feared terrorists. americans abandonment of afghanistan now could possibly hand over the keys to a nuclear armed kingdom of violence-loving terrorists. mr president, i conclude by saying i just returned this past august from denmark and greece, two relatively small countries, but steadfast allie allies in tr resolve to support the mission and stablize afghanistan. declaring defeat in afghanistan today would signal to o allies thatmericans no longer have the resolve to defeat terrorists. declaring defeat in afghanist would signal to our enemies by waiting us out, violent extremists can triumph over economic might in the international community. declaring defeat in afghanistan today would signal to the families of those who dd on
september 11, and the troops that have fought since then in the years since -- the service to their country, that their loved ones died in vain. these are not signals our great nation should ever send. instead we must declare our courage, resolve and patience to provide current resources and more troops to allow the smart power strategy of general mcchrystal to succeed. this alone is the signal america should send. mr. president, i thank the chair and my colleagues and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from florida. mr. nelson: mr. president, before i make some comments about our departed colleague, senator kenne, i must comment on the gravity of the remembnce of this day in history several years ago.
there's not a person living who was old enough at the time on that fateful day in 2001, that does not remember exactly where ey were when the tragedy occurred that this nation was struck by terrorists. struck from within. our nation has grown-up in its history of always having been protected in the homeland, protected by geography by two big oceans that kept us insulated from attack from without. and then suddenly we were shocked into the realization that we could be attacked on our own homeland.
and, of course, what america has done in reaction to that in perfecting our defenses, in increasing our intelligence apparatus so that we get the information before the terrorists can carry out their adeed. that h been significant in the protection of this nation and its people. of course, we remember exactly that fateful day, every one of us. this senator was only a few yards from this chamber on the west front of this u.s. capitod building in a meeting with the leadership. we were aware that the twin towers had been struck with the first plane and the second.
and somehow we wanted to continue our meeting, even though our minds really couldn't stayn the subject matter of the day, when someone burst in the room on that frontresume right over there -- i think it's senate 219 -- and said the pentagon's been hit. we leapt to the window overlooking the mall in the direction of the pentagon and could see the black smoke rising. it's ieresting, the reactions that you have at a time like that. my wife and i had just a few days before moved in to an apartment overlooking the southwest corner of the pentagon. it's called pentagon row. and, of course, i leapt to a telephone to try to get a
message to her to getut of the apartment and get into the basement garage. being unsuccessful to reach her, i came back out into the roo and everyone had deserted out into the hallway, and seeing the hallway crowded with people going down the stairs and hearing the capitol policemen at the bottom of the stairs saying "get out of the building. run! run! get out of the building! " of course the report had come in that the fourth airplane was inbound for washington. it was a day that brought senator rockefeller and me together, as he beckoned to me to get into his car. and as we drove away from the capitol complex, scrambling with our cell phones trying t get our office sta to tell them to get out of the buildings and get
to a location that they could inform us away from the capitol complex. and senator rockefeller and me winding throug streets in washington until we got to a location where we could wait to try to get additional information. since then, of course, our capitol police force, the departme of homeland security has come through wh procedures and instructions that are much more definitive than we had on that day. i'll never forget on that day, mr. president, then when senator rockefeller and i decided that we needed to move away from the location that we were, we wanted to get to a place that we could get news, we went to his home.
and hearing not a sound in the sky since allir traffic had been ceased on order of the secretary of transportation. but then hearing that silent sky being pierced by the sound of f-15's overflying the capitol. it was a day that we not onl can remember, but that we can take great lessons and instruction from to prare not to let it happen again. and one that we rember today, and those people who sacrificed, those people who were the victims. it is equal a solemn subject, mr. president, that i rise to
remember our frien and colleague, ted kennedy, w died at the young age of 77. and i say young age because it was another one of our colleagues, for example, senator john glenn, who flew on a ten-day space flight at age 77. and today, 11 years later, still looks as young as he looked back then. and so, 77 is way too young an age that cancer would take our friend, ted kennedy. throughout this funeral and the remembrances, we know that he was the youngest of nine
children. he had four brothers, and he was born in 1932 and elected to this senate in 1962. he spent 46 years in the senate, longer than all but two of our colleagues. he loved this institution, anã he loved his fellow senators. and, of course, so many pieces of mor legislation affecting the well-beg of the american people, if it doesn't have his name on it, it certainly has his finger prints on it. and many of those pieces of legislation reflect the work of his pen. he fought tirelessly for the sick, the poor, the disabled,
the children, the old. he was a driving force behind the efforts to guarantee rights for the disabled, to provide family and medical leave, and to ensure a fair minimum wage. but he also remembered individuals, both his colleagues, his staff, his constituents. he was the first person to call during hard times. why do you think that yesterday our most esteemed colleague -- senator byrd -- in his bent-over physical disability condition now, was wheeled to this floor in his wheelchair, and his voice rose to the occasion in
memorializing his friend. i remember senator byrd telling me how thoughtful senator kennedy was on a major birthday in his 80's. senator kennedy had sent him the requisite number of roses for that birthday. and, of course, no matter what your political persuasion, you could see ted kennedy as an example of public service. he devoted his entire life to public service, did so despite his easy financial condition. he did so despite the numerous opportunities elsewhere that he had. and he did so despite seeing his
three brothers sacrifice their lives in the service to their country. mr. president, i want to quote from our colleague, ted kennedy. and i quote from april of 2006. and this is what he said: "the defining aspect of our country is opportunity, the hope that you c do better, that your children can do better. but you need an even playing field. to do that, you can't be sick and in school. you've got to he health care. you've got to have an economy working to give people a chance to get ahead. it is not guaranteed, but you do have to have an opportunity.
our country is big enough and strong enough and wealthy enough to give that kind of opportunity to everybody. that's what i work on every day." end of quote. what an example for all of us. now, mr. president, there's something else i want to say abt our colleague, because much has been made of his flaws. but who among us do not have flaws? maybe senator kennedy realized so much his flaws that he decided that despite those, he was going to do the best that he
could do for his fellow humankind. and so he dedicated his life to the poor, the sick, the young and the old, the disabled. he foughtgainst discrimination of all types. indeed, he stood up for the least among us. who cannot admire that in being a champion for the least among us? godspeed, ted kennedy.
mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: i ask unanimous consent that further proceedings under the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mcconnell: mr. president, september 11 is a day of the year that has special resonance for all americans, and always should. earlier this week i was honored to stand with some of the family members of those who died eight years ago this morning on flight 93. they were here to mark the establishment of a memorial to those brave men and women who gave their lives that day over a field in pennsylvania and who in the process may very well have saved the lives of many of us here. their role in history will now be forever memorialized here in the capitol, ensuring that we never forget their sacrifice nor the sacrifice of the thousands of other innoct men and women who were taken from us on that
terrible day. and thiss just as it should be, because as i said during the ceremony earlier this week, there are some moments in the life of a nation that are worth remembering. there are others that are impossie to forget. september 11, 2001, is both. all of us who lived through that day know this to be true. we know that with each passing year, the day itself may become more distant in time, but the memories do not. and, yet, it's important that we mark that day each year with sadness for those that we lost. with solemn pride in the heroes of 9/11, and with renewed determination to confront terrorism wherever it is found. the memory of the fallen impels us. mr. president, i yield the floor.
mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator om washington. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent to speak as if in morning business. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: mr. president, like all american, i will never forget where i was on septembe september 11, 2001. and i will never forget the way that our country responded. in the face of great teadged americans came -- tragedy americans came together with courage and unity. eight years later, we continue to face great cal eption. as a -- great challenges. as a government and nation, we look to tackle of challenges that we face today. safety remains number one. we have troops working hard to protect and defend our nation. at the same time we continue to recognize that our diversity is also america's greatest strength. despite our many differences in times of need, we are always one nation united. this year, for the first time, 9/11 has been designated a
national d of service and remembrance. it's with a heavy heart that i stand on the floor of the senate today marking this day with a cloak and white roses on the desk of our departed colleague, senator ted knedy. ted worked to designate this day as one of ervice and in april the president signed t edward m. kennedy serve america act making that goal a reality. ted would beroud of each and every american who took up that call. the mission of this new designation is to honor the victims of 9/11 and those who rose to service in response to the attacks by encouraging all americans and others throughout the world to pledge to voluntarily perform at least one good deed or another service activity on 9/11 each year. in this way we hope to create a lasting and forward-looking legacy. annually rekindling the spirit of service, tolerance and
compassion that unified america and the world in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. i can't think of a better way to honor the memory of those who were lost than by taking a moment today to remember and then performing a good deed or act of service. september 11th isn't just a day of national loss, but of personal loss. my thoughts an prayers go out to -- and prayers go out to everyone who lost a friend or loved one. your loss is our loss and you are forever in our hearts. thank you, mr. president. mrs. murray: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i ask unanimous consent that the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. morning business is closed. under the previs order the nate will resume consideration of h.r. 328, which the -- 3288, which the clerk wl report.
the clerk: h.r. 3288 an act to make appropriations for the department of transportation and so forth and for other purposes. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: mr. president, we are now on the floor consideration the -- considering the transportation housing and appropriations bill. this is an extremely important measure to everyone here and to the country with investments to roads, highways, housing, infrastructure across the country. my ranking member, senator bond and i, are here ready to go and ready to work. i encourage my colleagues to come to the floor and offer amendments. the majority leader has asked us to move this bill as expeditiously as possible. we need to finish all of our appropriatio bills by october 1 of this year in order to make sure that people have the funding they need and they know where we're going, and so we, again, ask our colleagues to come to to the floor and if they do have amendments, offer them,
if they don't, allow us to continue to finish this bill. if there are no members at this point, i put in a quorum call. mr. bond: i ask to hold off the quorum call. i just add to what the chair, senator murray, has said. we're open. we're ready to do business. we have, i believe, close to two dozen amendments that have been filed. this would be an ideal time for people to come in and discuss their amendments, to bring them up. we are scheduled, i believe, to have votes on pending h.u.d. amendments on friday -- on monday afternoon when we return and it would be good for people without time constraints to come in and explain why they wish to amend the bill, allow us to debate those, and be ready for
votes. wenow there's interest. we know amendments have been filed. and we will have at least this morning to consider those amendments and i assume the majority leader will bring us in monday afternoon so i would urge my colleagues, if you really have an amendment that is seriously considered, whether it's on this side or the majority side, please bring it forward and let us have an opportunity to look at it, review it, debate it, discuss it, and prepare it for a vote. with that, mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
the presiding officer: without objection. mor mr i ask unanimous consent that the senate preed to the merde of morning business with senators permitted to speak for up to 10 minutes each. thank you, mr. president. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: